News December 1, 2023

Cover December 3, 2023(1)
Dear Friends and Members,

Dear Members and Friends:

Every year during our Christmas Eve service we close with a poem by the preacher and social justice activist, Howard Thurman. It runs:

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.

This year will be no exception. The holidays are a time of tradition and we have a lot of wonderful ones. From our Christmas pageant on December 17th to the Winter Solstice service on the 21st and the Christmas Eve service on the 24th, we will have lots of opportunities to celebrate joy despite the sadness and cultivate hope, peace, grace, and love strong enough to burn throughout the year.

Because this year Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday we’ll just be holding one service on the morning of the 24th. It will be at 11:30 a.m. and entirely in Spanish! It will be proceeded by Las Posadas at 10:30 a.m. We won’t be holding a Spanish service in the evening. Our regular English language Christmas Eve service at 7:00 p.m. will be lovely and this year again, I’ll be reading stories and sharing cider with the congregation’s children in the fireside room at 6:00 p.m.

Also this year, as part of our “Lives of the Spirit” program, we won’t just be hearing Thurman’s words on Christmas Eve. We will be spending the month wrestling with, and hopefully being inspired by, his mystical thought. This Sunday I’ll get us started with a sermon on Thurman titled “The Common Good” and then there will be book discussions and covenant groups throughout the month. If you don’t know about it already, I want to draw your attention to our workshop on Thurman. It will be led by friend of the congregation and local civil rights icon Omowale Luthuli-Allen on December 16th. Omowale has been profoundly influenced by Thurman and I am really looking forward to learning from him.

Also, this month we will be holding our final session of our oral history series “Religion in Houston’s Pan-African Community.” Our guest will be Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika. Dr. Sanyika is one of the most influential living Black humanists. A profound thinker, his impact on Unitarian Universalism and the world has been substantive. His students include the likes of Cornel West and Carol Lani Guinier. We’ll have a short reception celebrating the series after the program on the 13th. Princeton recently published their webpage featuring it.
I hope you’ll be able to join us.

I also hope that you’ll be able to join us for a special service on December 10th. It is the fortieth anniversary of the sermon that the Rev. Bob Schaibly preached that helped to launch the sanctuary movement across the United States. Four decades ago, First Unitarian Universalist played an important role in building a network of congregations across the United States devoted to helping refugees from Central America. Since then the congregation has been consistently engaged in assisting migrants and refugees, and on the 10th we’ll be celebrating our commitment!

The service on the 10th won’t be our only celebration of the month. On Friday the 8th we’ll be celebrating all of the ways in which we’ve committed to widen love’s circle with a party for everyone who has participated thus far in our capital campaign. To date we’ve raised over $1.7 million. There’s still time to participate in our campaign - please make your capital pledge and RSVP to Margarita at by Dec. 7th.. I hope you’ll be able to be part of that and all of the other wonderful things we have going on for this special month. Candles to brighten the year indeed!